Religion in Public Schools has been a topic of conversation among multiple states including Virginia. As stated by Stephen L. Carter, “.
..the government should neither force people into sectarian religious observances, such as classroom prayer in public schools, nor favor some religions over others….” (Carter 2). Although public schools are not “forcing” students into religious practices as stated above, they should still take into consideration the various other religions in America. Public schools should either teach all religions or none. In today’s society the roles of public schools are to stay neutral in religious issues, as well as governmental issues throughout the nation.
One of the United State’s biggest issues is prayer and the teachings of a specific religion in nd during school hours. For years teachers and professors have been finding ways around Separation of Church and State and the laws that come along with it. Religion is important and should be taught to students; however, not just one religion should be explained but all religions around the world. Teachers should inform students about the Bible, Torah, Koran, or other important religious texts and explain the influence it has on human behavior and history. Taking time to explain all religions is starkly different from just promoting one religion as a singular truth. If a public school is not willing to inform students of all religions, then it should not teach any religion; however, this would leave out a huge part of history and cultural diversity the nation has worked hard for. Another issue that has been prominent in public schools the last few years is controversy on clothing and religious paraphernalia.
The United States is a melting pot filled with various religions and some of these religions require certain dress such as headwear; for example, a Muslim may wear a hijab, and a person practicing Judaism may wear a yamaka. Recently there have been issues with administration in public schools asking students to remove his or her headwear, and the reasoning behind these teachers’ requests is that it is seen as “disrespectful” to wear any form of headwear in a public building. On the other hand, many children are seen wearing shirts promoting christianity. This seems unfair to allow children of one religion to take precedence over those of another religion. Finally, the last issue of Religion in Public Schools deals with Weekly Religious Education (WRE). WRE is a class that occurs about once a week and revolves around teaching elementary age students about Christianity. Carters Separation of Church and State argument explains that “..
.Justices struck down the recital of organized prayer in the public school classrooms…” (Carter 9), so teachers of WRE and administration of public schools have found “loopholes” to getting around this law. Students are allowed to be taken off school property, and no teacher is to be present during the class time aside from the WRE teacher. Students who are not Christian may choose to opt out of this program, but this often segregates and alienates students from their fellow peers.
Many people argue that teaching children about Christianity and holding Weekly Religious Education is not an issue and should continue to be initiated. However, Separation of Church and State clearly exercises the matter of no single religion being favored over another. By only teaching Christian beliefs to the students and favoring certain religious over others, this conflict is crumbling the “wall of separation” (Carter 7) in public schools.The issue of religion in public schools is controversial and the simplest way to resolve these conflicts is the use of the all or none philosophy. Schools are a public area for all races, genders, cultures, and religions to come together and get an education. Therefore, schools should explain the beliefs of all religions or none to allow for children to understand themselves and their peers, enabling young minds to build the foundations needed for peace and unity in the United States of America.